A day marked by the global sensation Tara the Hero Cat throwing out a ceremonial first pitch ended with the Lancaster Jethawks outslugging the Bakersfield Blaze, 8-4, in the series opener at Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield.
The story of the night was certainly the cat, though once the hubbub thinned, a game began, and the Jethawks jumped out to an early lead on James Allen (L, 2-4).
A run in the 1st inning on the first homer of the night for Teoscar Hernandez was followed by a three-run, four-hit 2nd, and though the Blaze countered with a run in the bottom of the 1st, the team trailed 4-1 after two.
Allen began to settle in a bit, but as it would turn out, the Jethawks simply played too clean a game, and it was too little, too late.
Bakersfield cut the deficit to 4-2 on a Seth Mejias-Brean homer, his fifth of the year.
Lancaster added a run in the 4th thanks to a clever swipe of third base to go back on top by three, but Bakersfield got close in the bottom half. Marquez Smith began the inning by hitting one of the hardest liners of the year for a solo homer, and two outs later, Juan Perez smacked a solo blast of his own, as the Blaze got to within 5-4.
But Lancaster countered ... twice. A run in the 5th inning on an infield single chased James Allen, and Jacob Johnson turned in three scoreless innings to keep it close.
All night long, though, the Jethawks got the big hits and make the key pitches. The Blaze did not get two runners on base in a row all night long, and a Teoscar Hernandez two-run homer in the 8th put a lid on the contest, sending Bakersfield to its second straight loss in front of one of the largest Tuesday crowds in years.
The defeat did not hurt the Blaze in the standings, as the Rawhide also fell on the road in Modesto, so the Blaze maintain a one game lead for first place in the North, with six more on the homestand and two more with the Jethawks.
Wednesday is Alianza Nonprofit Wednesday, where fans bringing an electronic donation item get in for free, with proceeds going to the Kern Chapter of the Special Olympics. Gates open at 6:30, and first pitch is scheduled for 7:30pm, with Kyle Westwood going for Lancaster, and Drew Cisco for Bakersfield.
Can't make it? Listen online as Dan Besbris brings the call at BakersfieldBlaze.com and through TuneIn Radio. The pregame show begins five minutes before first pitch.